A £1M house was destroyed by a major fire near Poulner in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Flames took hold of the vacant property at the Hangersley junction some hours before firefighters were called at 6.30am.

Shane Phayer, who lives nearby, bravely rushed out to see if anyone was inside after his mum Bobbie saw the flames.

Fortunately no one was home at the time.

Smoke was seen billowing at least 100ft into the air from across the New Forest as the house was devastated by the blaze. Glass could be heard cracking and shattering under the pressure of the heat.

Six fire engines took more than two hours to bring the fire under control.

Most of the front part of the property had all the windows blown out while the rear was totally gutted by the flames.

Because the roof was so badly destroyed, fire crews had to weave the water from their jets through the broken windows to tackle flames in the gable end as it could have collapsed if hosed from above.

Southern Electric engineers were brought in to disconnect the cables from the house, before fire officers assessed the external damage.

Group manager Andy Fox, from Hampshire Fire and Rescue, said at the scene that the fire would take some hours to control before the house was safe enough to enter.

“It was going really well before we even got here,” he said, adding: “There’s nothing to salvage because the property is empty.”

One watching resident said: “It’s not so much the bricks and mortar. It’s a lovely old house with a lot of history.”

The house, Holly Hill, sits in 11 acres of land, with two acres of SSSI land. It was completely renovated in 2010, and is believed to have had more work done recently.

Firefighters could earlier be seen trying to find mains locations for the water pumps while managing the influx of large vehicles on the small country lane. Neighbours were helping to turn traffic back before the cordon and divert them to the main road.

Jane and Mark Loader were out running when they saw the flames reaching well into the skyline.

“I just hope no one is in there,” Mark said at the time.

Heavy queues were reported on the A31 during the morning rush hour as commuters slowed to look at the smoke.